Motorola Xoom – interesting, we almost know what it does…

The more and more time goes on two things happen - I lose more hair, and tech companies come out with new tablets. CES 2011 wrapped up a couple weeks ago and the Motorola Xoom (not zoom for those who are spelling bee authorities) won the coveted best in show award. Not to shabby, for a tablet to win CES best in show, but will it win in the marketplace? Lets look under the hood and find out why everyone is touting the Motorola Xoom (via wikipedia)
The Motorola Xoom supports up to 1080p video playback and Adobe Flash. It features a 2 MP front-facing camera for video chatting over Wi-Fi or cellular Internet and a rear-facing 5 MP camera that records 720p video. The Xoom has a 1280×800 widescreen, 10.1-inch display and 3D graphics acceleration, as well as HDMI-out. It features a variety of sensors, including a gyroscope, a magnetometer, an accelerometer and a barometer. The Xoom uses Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC.
I won't get into the "why in the hell is this running flash debate" because I haven't used this yet so I won't prejudge. I will say that if Adobe has fixed the flash crash issue that plagues my desktop on an hourly basis, then we may have a winner on our hands. That being said there are other features that seem pretty interesting and certainly put this tablet ahead of the current iPad, the next one however is up to the folks at Cupertino. Based on the spec sheet and video of the tablet the screen resolution looks pretty solid and relatively comparable to netbooks and low-end laptops. For those folks looking to get rid of their netbooks/laptops but are hesitant due to picture quality the a Xoom could be a solution. The front facing camera will be standard on every mobile device/tablet from here on out so that's not anything to write home about; but then there's the rear facing camera... 5mp still camera is, again, pretty standard. But the 720p video recording is baffling and interesting at the same time. Let's face the facts, who in their right mind is going to shoot video with a tablet? There's absolutely ZERO reason for a tablet to have a video camera. Given the rumor that the Xoom has an$800 price point (which I'll get too) anyone who has the Xoom also has a mobile phone that shoots 720p and is lighter to use and less awkward looking. Who is going to walk around with both hands straight forward holding a square camera, and how do you plan on holding it stable? Good luck with that. If anyone has a reason why the Xoom has a 720p camera aside from "putting it in for the hell of it" I'm all ears. I can't wait for accessory companies to come out with a $299 handheld run and gun kit for the Xoom, why not right? Other key features that are standard among non iPad tablets - Proximity Sensors, check - Gyroscope, check - Accelerometer, check - Magnetometer (or more commonly known everywhere else in the world and throughout all of history as a compass), check - Barometer, che...wait what? The Motorola Zoom has a barometer. I'll wait for you to clean your glasses. The Motorola Zoom has a barometer. So when you think it's going to rain folks, just hold that dandy tablet out your window to check the barometric pressure. In all seriousness, I get it. Google threw Barometer support in with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and up until now most folks thought it was just a Google easter egg or something. According to reports the barometer placed within the Xoom will allow for more accurate weather reports on your tablet. Pardon my ignorance for a second and let me play out a scenario: The Xoom is a tablet, which I'm fairly certain is web enabled. The Xoom will be available on wireless providers so you can get data in virtually every spot of the United States - unless you  live in Utah. So you have a web tablet, which also does apps, connected to a wireless provider so you can get data everywhere. With that said you can download an app from the National Weather Service, or hell, even the Weather Channel and get weather conditions. Now in that same tablet you have a barometer, which I'm pretty sure no one under the age of 80 knows how to read. So you mean to tell me that a tablet with a barometer will give me a better weather report then the National Weather Service - an organization that has been tracking weather, and done fairly well, for over ONE HUNDRED FORTY ONE YEARS!? I just want to make sure I'm understanding. Look, I haven't seen the Xoom's barometer in action so I won't completely rule out that its not useless - but the case against it isn't looking good. In the case of my iPhone, all my weather apps are pretty accurate. Granted, this is Buffalo and we have two conditions - snow and gray. All of that aside, I think the most interesting aspect of the Xoom is going to be Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Honeycomb has been, apparently, built from the ground up for a tablet and not a re-imagination of a phone OS. Again, based on all the screenshots, videos and reviews of Honeycomb I've read it seems pretty legit and for the first time I'm slightly excited to take a look at Android. Now for the price tag. The biggest complaint people have about the iPad is the price, starting at $499 is a chunk of change to be taking a dive into a new subculture of computing. With that, will people pay the reported $800 price tag for it? Compared to the 64gb 3g iPad the Xoom, which has a larger/better resolution screen, expandable 64gb slot, stupid fast Tegra processor and a BAROMETER, I'd say the price point is fair. Do I think Motorola should come out with a cheaper non expandable 16gb wifi model? Yes. Price it at $329 or even $429 and you could eat up some of the entry level weary iPad adopters. On the flip side, we know apple will be in the tablet market (that they've practically re-invented) for the long haul. What consumers are weary of is companies coming out with high priced products and abandoning them out of no where. There's already been mumblings around the internerds that the Galaxy tab is on its death bed and could be discontinued, not my words. I think the Motorola Xoom is certainly interesting, and I'll hopefully get to use one at some point (Hey Motorola!). There's definitely a couple question marks, specifically the reasoning behind a 720p video camera on a tablet and the insertion of a barometer on the inner guts of the tablet. Aside from those two things I think it's an interesting product that could be an alternative to iPad, assuming of course Apple doesn't do a large overhaul internally and externally on iPad 2. The one, final, thing I will say is that I hope the Xoom commercials are a lot better then their Super Bowl ads because if you want people to buy your product, you need to tell people what the product does; and perhaps not just show shots of people on a train:
Nice, updated interface for Youtube - will we see that on iPad2?
Really interesting interface Honeycomb has. Probably the one feature I'm looking forward to most.

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